7/7 Inquest: Was someone afraid to reveal the causes of deaths?
26 February 2011
It is quite startling to realise that a special room had been set up to receive the dead of the 7 July 2005 bombings in a temporary morgue built on army land, the contract for which (see Note  below) arrived on the contractor’s desk on 6 July 2005, the day before the massacres.
All the bodies of the dead were taken and placed in cold-storage there.
Not until the Inquest, five years later, did startled lawyers acting on behalf of the victim-families get to hear, that NO POST MORTEMS had been performed on the dead.
Let us repeat this astonishing statement, the better to realise our own astounded bafflement:
NO POST MORTEMS HAD BEEN PERFORMED ON THE DEAD.
Let’s listen to the bewildered comment from pathologist Dr. Awani Choudhary, one of the first doctors on the scene from the BMA at Tavistock Square, who testified to the Inquest about his attempts to save the life of Gladys Wundowa:
“I have not seen the post-mortem report, but I thought that she was bleeding from somewhere … So if the post-mortem says that she was not bleeding from anywhere, just had a spinal injury, I will be surprised…
Q. Since you ask about the post-mortem, can I simply inform you that, as with all the other casualties of the day, no internal post-mortem was conducted into Gladys Wundowa, so unfortunately, much as we would like the answers to the questions that you’ve asked, they don’t –
A. I… I’m absolutely sure that she had had internal injury as well as a spinal injury, and I’m absolutely surprised that a post-mortem has not been done through and through.
Q. Well, Mr Choudhary, that isn’t a matter to concern you.
Q. … we don’t need to concern ourselves about that matter.” (20 January 2011, 63:22- 65:6)
No, of course not. 52 dead and no post-mortems, nothing to worry about.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY EXPLAIN THE ASTONISHING DECISION NOT TO CARRY OUT POST MORTEMS? THE GREATEST MODERN ACT OF MASS-MURDER ON BRITISH SOIL AND NO ONE WAS INTERESTED IN COLLECTING PRECISE EVIDENCE OF CAUSE OF DEATH.
SO MUCH COULD HAVE BEEN LEARNED ABOUT THE EXPLOSIONS AND THE EXPLOSIVES FROM SUCH MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS.
IS IT UNFAIR TO SUSPECT THAT THE FAILURE TO COLLECT THIS BASIC INFORMATION WAS CAUSED BY FEAR (OR WORSE) THAT POST MORTEMS WOULD THROW UP SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO CONTRADICT A PREORDAINED NARRATIVE OF SUICIDE-BOMBER TERRORIST ATTACKS? MIGHT THE INJURIES HAVE INDICATED THE USE OF MILITARY-GRADE EXPLOSIVES TO WHICH THE ‘TERRORISTS’ COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE HAD ACCESS?
The lawyer acting for the families expressed shock and outrage at the fact that ‘cause of death’ had not been definitely confirmed. Would their clients have to put up with ‘brief, neutral and factual’ statements over this most basic of issues? The Telegraph reported from the Inquest:
‘But the bereaved families said the coroner should be allowed to go into much greater detail about how the deaths came about. They do not want a ”sterile” conclusion that their loved ones were unlawfully killed that fails to rule on whether the security agencies could have prevented the atrocities or whether the emergency services could have saved more lives, their lawyers said.
‘Patrick O’Connor, QC, for the relatives, told the inquest in a legal argument hearing: ”Of course the bereaved interested persons would be very disappointed. But the public may well be quite astonished if that were the position and we were literally kept to the kind of one, one-and-a-half, two sentence verdict in the inquisition that is suggested by some.”
‘He added, ”The statue of Justice is very often depicted blindfolded, but never gagged.” (18 February 2011)
An Inquest without any post-mortems? By way of to trying to remedy this situation, the Inquest turned to the MOD. Why should it be their business? They had to construct a model to show the probable fatal injuries and likely causes of death for those with no obviously fatal external injuries. Colonel Mahoney, Defence Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham, spent a couple of days at the Inquest explaining the situation, whereby ‘virtual Underground carriages’ had been constructed as models, but it all seemed rather vague:
“Q. But your approach must, overall, be read subject to a number of caveats?
Q. Firstly, as you mentioned, there was no invasive post-mortem in any case.
Q. Secondly, the X-ray examination was limited, as you’ve just said, to fluoroscopy? (see Note  below)
Q. Thirdly, although you have photographic evidence, in some cases the photographs were difficult to interpret, for reasons I won’t explore with you?
A. Yes.” (31 January 2011, 5:3-17)
Still Clueless about the Explosions
Colonel Mahoney was faced with not only an absence of post-mortems, but also with a weird absence of a coherent theory about the explosive that had been used … We saw how earlier in February the Government’s explosives experts at the Inquest had to tiptoe around the fact that none of them would endorse the government’s peroxide-and-black pepper story. Asked to prepare a report for the Inquest, Colonel Mahoney did so. We note a couple of remarks he made there, from comments he had heard from Clifford Todd, the forensic expert.
His report alluded to ‘Mr Todd’s opinion that the devices were consistent with the use of high explosives.’ In no way can peroxide and black pepper be called a high explosive. Secondly, he found ‘There is little evidence from Mr Todd’s evidence to suggest that the devices produced a significant heat output.’ (‘Blast waves and their effect on the Human Body’, pp.18 & 19) Any peroxide bomb with back pepper as a base is a thermal bomb, because the heat comes from the rapid oxidation of the pepper. The more home-made the bomb the more it is going to be ‘thermal’ ie produce heat. Only the high-blast expertly made explosives of the military will yield a pure blast without heat.
Thus Colonel Mahoney’s report nullifies the Inquest’s silly joke about peroxide and black pepper – it points back to the first theories about the 7/7 blast, which emerged in the week after the event, when the real experts were averring that a military explosive had been used. Colonel Mahoney is the author of several books on this topic: Lady Justice Hallett alluded to ‘the area in which you are most expert: namely, the effects of explosive devices.’ (31 January 2011, 66:3-4)
What Happened to the Bodies?
Why did the families have to wait for a week or sometimes even more, before they learned of the fate of their lost ones? A study by Jenny Edkins (University of Wales, Aberystwyth, author of ‘Trauma and the Memory of Politics’) about the way 7/7 victims were treated) explained, ‘This paper is motivated by a concern, an anger even, at the way in which people were treated by the authorities in the aftermath of the London bombings of July 2005. In particular, communication with those searching for missing relatives or friends was one-way or nonexistent. This treatment, it seems to me, provides an example of what Michael Dillon has called “governing terror…”’
‘Families were plunged into a world of Disaster Victim Identification Forms, Police Liaison Officers, and stonewalling by officials…. In the aftermath of the explosions on the London underground and in Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury on Thursday, 7 July 2005, relatives of the missing were kept waiting for up to or over a week for information about where their sons and daughters, friends and family members might be.’
We cite five examples:
* Marie Fatayi-Williams was only allowed to see her son Anthony’s body on July 14th a week later . A police officer was standing around. She had to make a great deal of fuss to obtain this, and she kept being advised against it. She tells this in her book, For the love of Anthony. She is never given the body, she cannot bury her own son.
* A film by Benedetta Ciaccia’s former boyfriend, Raj Babbra, called ’7/7 – Life Without Benedetta’, has her father and mother, speaking in Italian (in Part 3 at 3:58, with only a bit of it subtitled), say: ‘It’s an awful thing to lose your child … let alone not being able to see her dead … they didn’t show her to me … I was advised not to see her … we were told it was better to remember her the way she used to be.’ They never even got to see her body.
* John Taylor, 60, whose 24-year-old daughter Carrie died in the Aldgate blast, described how it took 10 days for he and his wife to discover that their child had died.
* In A Song for Jenny by Julie Nicholson (2010), the Reverend Julie Nicholson asks a policeman why it was taking so very long before she heard about her daughter Jenny (p. 287), her book gives the wierd reply: ‘He confirmed four hundred body parts had been recovered and sent to a specialised laboratory in Bosnia for ID, which could take several weeks.’ – no comment! She was dissuaded from wanting to see her daughter’s body, but she insisted. She knew it was her daughter Jenny (she wrote) because of the hands.
* Relatives of Samantha and Lee, a couple who both died as a result of the bombings, did not get a formal identification of Samantha until 16 July, nine days after she gave her full name to her rescuer at Russell Square. The parents complained, ‘We were never asked if we could or would like to see her or be with her. We do not know where her body was kept.’ Asked Jenny Edkins, ‘Why was it not possible for this family to be with the body? Why was the information that she was dead withheld from them?’
The default position may have been, that families did not see the bodies of the deceased. Whatever was going on, the protocol seems quite macabre. Alison Anderson and Robert McNeil were the experts in body identification who organised the mortuary after the July 2005 London bombings, and they had worked for the United Nations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Why did the families need to wait for so long? Why was there a military company coping with the bodies? We can only wonder what was written on the death certificates, as next to nothing seems to have been ascertained about how they died.
J7 have written what is arguably their most brilliant piece yet on this topic, and let’s quote here from it:
So, assumptions are piled upon presumptions and houses of cards are built on shifting sands. These are the openly-stated unknown unknowns from which the bereaved families are meant to learn how they lost their loved ones.
NOTE : Military site for the Bodies
It is also quite startling to realise that a special room had been set up to receive the dead – starting work on 6 July 2005, the day before the 7/7 massacres. Here is a statement about what happened on that day, and where the bodies went:
Based in Northamptonshire in the UK, the company [De Boer] had already completed several contracts for the Metropolitan Police …The De Boer team spent months visiting permanent mortuaries and attending meetings with London Resilience to suggest a suitable structure and interior design… Six months later on July 6, 2005, a document arrived at De Boer’s UK headquarters finalising what had been agreed for a future crisis response. Within 24 hours the plan was being realised .and implemented with the creation of a temporary mortuary in the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company near Moorgate Underground Station in central London.’ (source, ‘London’s Response to 7/7’ David Donegan Office of the Strategic Health Authorities at NHS, in www.crisisresponsejournal.com no longer online, held in J7 archives and quoted here)
Good timing or what? Thus an ‘emergency mortuary’ was established on a Military site in the City of London – its contract for the work received on the day before the catastrophe. Not only did this military site receive all of the bodies (and it claimed to start receiving them on the morning of 8th July), but it set up ancillary sites adjacent to the four blast sites on the morning of July 7th: ‘Outside of the mortuary De Boer also provided structures and furniture at each of the Underground Stations affected, and refrigeration facilities at the site of the bus bombing.’
The De Boer company managed it so well that, in recognition, its project manager was invited to meet Tony Blair at Downing Street. It was felt that, at such very short notice – after all, they only got the job on July 6th – they had done a fine job. Concerning the swift freezing of the bus bomb victim bodies, while I was researching ‘Terror On The Tube’, I could only see two or three corpses lying around in all of the photographs of that bus wreck. So I guess the De Boer team must have removed them swiftly.
We are also reminded of the big FEMA vans that arrived to clear up the damage in New York at Ground Zero on 9/11 (Federal Emergency Management Agency): they were proud of how quickly they arrived, in fact they arrived (by a similar sinister precognition) on Monday evening, the day before the very surprising 9/11 event.
NOTE : Fluroscopy
The ‘fluoroscopy’ method was described as ‘a limited form of X-ray,’ which showed embedded bits of metal etc. Thus, ‘Primary surveys of whole bodies in unopened body-bags were undertaken using fluoroscopy by teams of two radiographers and a pathologist. The aim of the primary survey was to establish the nature of the contents of the bag,..’ (Forensic Radiography: Response to the London Suicide Bombings on 7 July 2005, Mark D. Viner)
Nicholas Kollerstrom is an historian of science who has authored multiple books, now including TERROR ON THE TUBE (2009) about the events of 7/7. He maintains a web site at http://terroronthetube.co.uk